The May issue of Sunset Magazine has a section devoted to camping, a portion of which was entitled, “Every camper’s nemesis: the raccoon.” Having camped for many years before realizing that “camping” really means a hotel without room service, I’m here to say we never saw one raccoon. Not one. And we know why. They’re way too smart to be hanging around the mountains and woods. They’re living down here in the suburbs with us.
We never had much contact with these guys, so adorable with their little bandit masks, until our youngest daughter decided to have her wedding reception in her very own backyard. Which made her very own parents realize they needed to DO SOMETHING about that yard, which was pretty much a jungle. About this same time, a century old rubber tree collapsed under its own weight, taking out a retaining wall. We got out the checkbook and called a landscaper. The wall was rebuilt with rose bushes behind it, the pool fence moved back to create a lawn area by the pool and the sod company installed rolls of sod. About a week after all this sod was tamped into place, we came out to find that it had been ripped out of place and several of the rolls had been rolled up again. Mystified, we consulted our landscaper who shook his head and said, “Raccoons. I was hoping they wouldn’t find you.”
The war was on. Us against the raccoons who thought the grubs and bugs under our new sod were gourmet fare. We grew to hate them as we tried one ineffective measure after another. Night after night they came. We installed floodlights. They danced in the beams. We put in alarms. They laughed. We bought and sprayed coyote scent (which costs about the same as Chanel #5). They rolled in it. We conceded defeat when I found myself standing outside our back door lobbing rocks at them at three in the morning, weeping with frustration. The little stinkers, who had just enjoyed a refreshing dip in the pool, stood up, looked at me with narrowed eyes, revealing they were a good 3 feet tall, and headed my way.
Sunset Magazine says: Do not think you are faster or smarter than raccoons. They got that right. So each day we would tamp the sod down again, water it, and hope someone else would put in a new lawn. The grass survived, the wedding was lovely, the reception fabulous. We still have occasional raccoon encounters. We never win.